Take a look at any of the world’s most successful and profitable businesses. Behind the glitzy polished public exterior, you’ll find teams of dedicated, highly driven, and switched-on managers at the helm. Managers drive a company’s progress and dictate its direction while also ensuring lower-level employees are content and satisfied in their jobs. In real terms, managers are the control room of an organization that governs every aspect of how a company operates. However, while good management is indeed an essential element for all firms, it could easily be argued that it is of even greater importance for engineering companies. As most engineering projects typically involve working on ideas and taking them from the conceptual phase to final production, the effective management of a job’s lifecycle can often become a determining component in its overall success or failure. What is engineering? Before outlining the importance of good management in engineering, it would perhaps be a good idea to consider just what the term ‘engineering’ means. In a genuine sense, ‘engineering’ is probably the widest umbrella term in the entire employment market. The title of engineering can be applied to a vast array of different industries and roles, including (but not limited to): \tChemical engineering: A chemical engineer uses chemicals to solve problems - anything from streamlining production processes to improving food quality. Everyday products we use that exist due to chemical engineering include medications, processed food, and even just the gas you put in your car. \tComputer hardware engineering: Most people think of computers purely regarding the benefits they can bring - usually through software and apps. However, it’s worth sparing a thought for the technicians that built the hardware that powers these apps and the underlying Operating Systems (OSs). Without computer hardware engineers, we wouldn’t have motherboards, chips, computer memory, etc. All the stuff that makes our devices work. \tConstruction and building engineering: Engineers are used extensively in the construction industry. In particular, a construction manager (often with engineering experience) will liaise closely with architects, contractors, and other engineers to ensure a building is produced to the required specifications and the agreed schedule. \tNuclear engineering: Although nuclear energy has dropped a little out of favor lately due to the green movement and environmental concerns, nuclear remains one of the cleanest and most efficient fuels available today. As the world transitions to more climate-friendly fuel sources, the demand for skilled nuclear engineers that can extract the benefits from radioactive material will remain high during the interim. \tAerospace engineering: As the name suggests, aerospace engineering is concerned with finding ways to fly goods and people efficiently and cost-effectively. A job in this area will typically require skills in computers, mathematics, chemistry, and physics – with many roles in the manufacturing sector. \tElectrical and electronics engineering: Electrical and electronics engineers are required in various industries and are often the unsung, unnoticed heroes behind many of the most in-use and most common items in the modern world. These engineers will work in sectors as diverse as cars, home appliances, smartphones, planes, etc. In short, anything that uses electricity (and just think how long that list is) will have the input of an electrical engineer (and probably an electronics engineer). The list above really is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the roles performed by engineers, but, as you can probably see, many of the items we take for granted daily exist as a result of engineering. Much of this novel work starts purely from a concept that is then developed - often over many years and by many different teams or individuals - until the same fledgling, acorn idea grows into the products and services that populations the world over know and use today. This constant invention and restyling of old ideas make good management in engineering such an essential factor. Good management will save companies from straying off course or spending too much money or time chasing ideas that simply aren’t viable. What skills are required for engineering management? Many esteemed business owners would (rightly) argue that good management is a skill in itself. Sure, you might know a subject area - or even an entire company - inside and out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll also successfully perform in a manager role. A skilled engineering manager will typically have served time in their specialized form of engineering and will then study an additional qualification like an operations management masters degree to hone the skills required for management. What are the typical responsibilities of engineering managers? While all roles are different - and there is also a vast diversity of industries in which engineers work - as a general guide, some of the areas an engineering manager will need to be versed in include: Financial management: Good financial management is essential to ensure jobs don’t overrun the budget. This aspect of a project will also involve time management and adhering to milestones to eliminate job creep. The engineering manager will typically form the essential link between investors and the project team, reporting to make sure deadlines is met and jobs stay on track and within agreed costs. People management: One of the core and most fundamental skills required by all managers in all industries knows how to work well with people and get the best from a team. While this skill can certainly be learned over time, many employment experts would argue that it’s a natural talent that seems an almost inherent gift of the very best managers. Operations management: In engineering, operations management can cover various responsibilities. However, at its core, the term refers to devising business and work processes that maximize the efficiency of a project - or, in other words, finding the best way to transform labor and materials into an end product or service suitable for delivery to consumers. This wide area might include knowing modern business practices, strong leadership skills, or a keen understanding of supply chains and how to manage them. Marketing management: While marketing might not seem an area that engineers would be concerned with, at some point, the product that’s being developed will need to be presented to the world. In this sense, the engineering manager will often be responsible for detailing their conceptual product or service to a marketing team that will devise the best ways to promote its Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and benefits for the customer. Project strategy: The best managers in any industry are those individuals who can stay fixed on their end goal and find the best, most economical and most effective ways to realize those aims. The same applies to engineering management, where project strategy will involve thinking about the resources available and then coming up with a coordinated plan to maximize each for the overall benefit of the job. Maximizing the use of available technologies: Although knowledge is essential across all engineering sectors, it is perhaps most advantageous in electronic and electrical engineering. The pace of development of technology in recent years has been frantic, resulting in even previously cutting-edge tech becoming obsolete in just a matter of years. An electronic or electrical engineering manager will have to stay on top of emerging tech to make sure a project is making full use of - and benefits from - the latest techniques, hardware, and software. As mentioned above, engineering covers so many different sectors that it would be impossible to outline the precise role of engineering managers in all industries. Duties may increase or decrease depending on the particular project. Additional skills required for engineering management Just like other managerial roles, specific seemingly unrelated skills will help individuals succeed in the role of engineering manager: \tHave honed presentation skills: Although the job of an engineering manager is first and foremost to coordinate the production of a job, a fair percentage of the role also requires acting as a conduit between the relevant stakeholders in a project - and this will typically involve making presentations (or least giving updates). For this reason, having good presentation skills is considerably advantageous for engineering managers. \tHave high levels of motivation: The old saying goes, “Nothing worthwhile ever came easy”, and the same certainly applies to the role and responsibilities of engineering managers. Being a manager in any industry can be demanding, but it might be said management in engineering is even more so. To succeed, individuals must remain highly motivated and revel in accepting challenges. \tPossess a talent for problem-solving: Much of the work of management lies in looking at problems and finding the best route out. Usually, this involves thinking a little out of the box to understand the resources available and how to put them to best use to help a job reach completion. \tHave highly developed, so-called soft skills: So-called soft skills are advantageous talents in all professions. They are often referred to as core or common skills and usually are deeply rooted in an individual’s personality. Although soft skills can be taught, there’s little doubt they come more naturally to some people than to others. Indeed, if you don’t have them, they’re something you should look at trying to develop. The most commonly cited soft skills include:Writing skills: In our modern age of email and messaging, writing skills are more important than ever to allow you to convey ideas and instructions. The ability to work as part of a team: All good managers possess the ability to work as a team and understand this to be the best way to get the best from their employees.Leadership skills: While working as a team is essential, the ability to also lead is perhaps even more essential. All good leaders possess a talent for motivating others to work towards a common goal.General literacy skills: In short, reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills - are all essential skills if you’re to get the best from those around you. In particular, listening can be an especially important yet often overlooked talent.Resilience: Good managers should have a strong belief in themselves and the ability to soak up failures when things go wrong and accept praise when they go right. Have a strong work ethic: Management is hard work and is a demanding and time-consuming role. To succeed, an individual will need a solid and determined work ethic and a clear approach to how they take on tasks. Why is good management so important in engineering? Good management in any industry is fundamental for keeping jobs on track and staff motivated. However, in a technical sector like engineering, it could be argued good management takes on even greater significance. A successful engineering manager is a rare breed of people who possesses both the technical skills and experience to know how best to complete a job while also having interpersonal, administrative, problem-solving, and planning talents. At the heart of good engineering management lies a deep understanding of the particular sector and the project itself. However, beyond that, an engineering manager needs to take a holistic overview of a job and successfully coordinate pretty much every aspect of the project from the concept phase right through to final delivery to the client. It is a beneficial yet demanding role steeped in responsibility from a business, financial, technical, and marketing, HR, and analysis point of view. As with many other areas of life, when engineering management is conducted well, it will often go unnoticed - however, when it goes wrong, it can result in delays, accidents, significant financial losses, or, in a worst-case scenario, jobs being wholly shelved. Further Reading \t Coding Courses: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think \t What Is International Recruitment? \t Robotics: What is it and what are its applications?